Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Sometimes, It's Just Hard

Sometimes, you wouldn't even know he's the same kid. At some point during the 10 weeks of OT intervention for his 'social issues,' N turned a major corner. Today, he's the kid who, when I arrive at daycare to pick him up, goes screaming away from me, yelling, "HIDE, guys! My mommy's here!" and is then followed by half a dozen other little boys all giggling and screaming. He's not just part of the posse, he's its leader. In the most recent written report from his preschool, part of their normal twice-yearly process of evaluations, one of his teachers wrote the following. "At this time, he is seen interacting or playing more with other children, such as [and here she lists eight different children, noting that one of them is one of the roughest, most difficult children at the school, who is nonetheless drawn to N]. He plays with them one to one or in a group of two or three...N seems not only to have expanded his socialization skills but has gained more self confidence, as he is seen acting as a leader in some games..."

Even more impressive was the report from the OT students who worked with him over those 10 weeks. Although they definitely saw issues, and noted that there are still areas of weakness, they wrote the following: "Working with N over the last 10-week period has been a monumental learning experience and we have enjoyed getting to know him. Over this time we have seen him make subtle, yet meaningful, changes in his personality and his actions, which we find encouraging. Most recently, we have noticed that N has been able to play successfully with a group of 3-5 children, without our intervention. He has been open to being redirected to communicate his needs/wants or upsets and has reduced the amount of self-soothing behaviors, though this is still an area of concern. Although he will still occasionally revert back to some of his previously isolating/disrupting behaviors, we feel he has made tremendous progress from his initial evaluations and will continue to do so, as long as interventions are continued in both his school and home environment."

All good, really. All positive. All going in the right direction.

(You can see the next part coming from a mile away, can't you? I wish I had.)

Today was his kindergarten evaluation at this soon-to-be elementary school, and all I want to know is, who WAS that child, the one who had to be almost literally dragged over to the table where the teacher needed him to work, despite the fact that she broke the rules to begin with and let us come into the room with him? Who WAS that child, the one who spent the first five minutes refusing to talk in any recognizable language, instead reverting to the squeaks and noises that I happen to know are the words of his "'nary (i.e. imaginary) friend" Aaah. Who WAS that child who, when pulled by both arms over to the table and asked to identify letters for the teacher, put his hands over his eyes and refused to look at the letters?

Because it wasn't the kid who's made great strides, that's for sure.

It eventually went fairly well. He managed to squeak out enough words at first to tell her that he was shy, and then she managed to get him talking about his favorite TV shows, so that he took his hands away from his eyes. And once she got him started on naming letters, he was interested enough to answer, and get almost everything correct that I believe he knows (though, interestingly, he refused to sit down and kept swinging from the edge of the desk as he answered her, a whole new can of worms that I am just not opening right now).

When they were done, I asked Baroy to take him out of the room, and I filled this teacher in on the conversation I had with the principal a few weeks back, the one--at the time--that I thought was an example of my overreacting, considering all the good reports I'd had on him. In that conversation I'd filled the principal in on his background, gave her copies of his reports, requested that he not be put into any kind of mixed-grade class, etc., and she (the principal) had been very receptive. Today, the teacher agreed with those recommendations, and wrote them down as well.

So, in all, I should be feeling OK about this. Except I'm not. Because he was so off. SO off. Remember, this is the kid who didn't qualify for services because--despite his issues with his peers--he does so very well with adults. There wasn't another child in the room; there was only the spectre of the children who will be there in the fall. I'd been prepping him for this for a few days: how there would only be a teacher, how I'd ask if I could stay in the room with him; how she'd ask him questions about letters and numbers and they'd be so easy for him to answer; how he's already met this teacher, and how he liked her. It should have gone so much better. So much better. But it didn't. Instead, it went as if scripted from one of my classic anxiety-about-N dreams.

I was just starting to relax a bit about all of this, to let down my guard, to hope that, this September, my son would enter kindergarten the same way all the other kids will--with fear and trepidation, but with the ability to work through and past it. Now I'm scared for him all over again. What's going to happen when it's the first day of school, and there are 19 other scared boys and girls in the class, and my kid refuses to enter the room, or insists on sitting in a far corner of the room crying, sucking his thumb, talking in 'aaahs' and 'ehhhhs'? He's so much more than this. He's so much better than he was. Except today. Today, even though he's still the preschool posse-leading kid, there are still vulnerable spots. Today, when stressed, he couldn't quite rise to the occasion. Today, all that work doesn't really seem to have paid off. Today, I'm depressed.

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